Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Survival Tactix: On Record....

When TNA determined to go live on the road as a statement of normalcy, I wrote that while I didn't think they were ready for it yet, I hoped for the best. I still believe they weren't ready, but now, they know more about their fanbase and their competition as well. This is valuable information, people. It gives TNA an idea of how far WWE is willing to go to stay ahead of their competition by a large margin. Heaven knows they don't want another WCW on their hands. I think it goes deeper than that, though. WWE is a much larger giant than they were back when they faced WCW and with that status comes a farther fall from grace should things go south.

Here's some more information I find interesting.....Stephanie McMahon has been converting her shares of WWE stock into a higher valued version and selling it on the open market. Why? Is WWE on the verge of losing endorsement deals that would make them less valuable? You can't blame a gal for hedging her bets, but even so, if her confidence in the WWE brand, in which she's a major shareholder, were ironclad, why unload so much at once? Unless she's planning on leaving the business behind, it makes little sense. How does Stephanie McMahon leaving WWE make a difference? Since 2002, when WWE began their brand extension, forcing their massive roster into two separate entities, their creative team had been led on the red brand, RAW, by Vince and Bruce Pritchard. The Smackdown brand was led by guess who? Stephanie and her own right hand man, Michael Hayes. While the bulk of Smackdown storylines was credited to Hayes from 2002 until 2003, in 2004, Steph decided to try her hand, hence the DISASTER that was Mr. America. It didn't end there, though. The awful Big Show booking, the demise of Sean o' Haire, and most of the rest of the year were spoiled because she accepted little input from outside sources. Once the brand split ran its course, including a third entity in ECW/WWE, Steph's job as Creative Head of the blue brand was less about determining the direction of the story and more about securing allies within the organization so she could successfully step away for a while in order to start a family.

This sidetrack may or may not be valuable, but what IS valuable is that WWE is in the process of restructuring, but their process has been CONTINUOUS, with writers POURING out as quickly as they can be replaced, most of which have been irreparably soured to the wrestling business as a result of WWE's strict adherence to their adopted PG format and their low tolerance for ignorance as it relates to a business the lion's share of said writers knew virtually nothing about. So now we know a little more about the nature of the beast....and how best to tackle them.

TNA's greatest strength, in my personal opinion, is the ability to create a good heel character. The brand is BUILT on it. If you want proof, look at the history. The heels have been the longest reigning champions, the most often featured on television, and the most prominent authoritarian figures in virtually every case. They've led more stables and wreaked more havoc than any babyface figures on the whole. From a heel perspective, a face character is as easy as stepping in the way of the said havoc and deflecting the damage or reflecting it. How is this important?

WWE is built around the faces. Want proof? Look at the Divas Division. Only AJ Lee is a legitimate heel character. Granted, with Triple H is authoritarian, it LOOKS as though there are few faces, but if you actually look at the roster, there are FAR more faces than heels and it's been this way for quite some time. WWE has difficulty allowing the heels to reign the roost for long because of the PG environment. There has to be a glimmer of hope to cling to.

TNA allowed the Aces and Eights to rule the upper tier for over a year. Why? Because it made sense. Because it gave them the time to build up their babyface count back to a number that was manageable to offset the onslaught. The Aces built Bully Ray into a legitimate main event character. Bully Ray, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Jeff Jarrett, Eric Young, Petey Williams, Konnan, Daniels; all are exactly what I'm taking about when it comes to heels and prominence on screen. The champions had long reigns and held their respective division in place, giving the babyfaces someone and something to chase. THIS is where TNA's biggest asset is.

Some would claim it's the specialty divisions or the beauty or the Knockouts or whatever else, but their ability to assemble a cast of people who can fit into the role of the bad guy and create an atmosphere where the process of assuming the mantle of hero is as organic and flowing as the business itself, THAT'S what makes TNA something special.

Magnus is on the cusp of main eventing even as we speak. If he is able to capture the World Title this year, as I'm predicting he will, this will make TNA's 7th first time champion in 4 years. Chris Sabin, Bully Ray, Ken Anderson, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Austin Aries, That's a major accomplishment, folks. That means that Magnus would join a HOST of other former champions who, at any time, could be counted on to take up the ball and run with it. WWE could only hope for that kind of top tier.

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